Rugby World Cup
Tommaso Allan vows to rise to challenge with Italy
Tristan Barclay
September 26, 2015
Canada shattered, disappointed after loss to Italy

Tommy Allan is determined not to buckle under the pressure of Italy's No.10 jersey, even though he admits playing in the chaos that often surrounds him can be a tricky task.

Saturday's scoresheet will show Allan and his team-mates as the victors against Canada in their Pool D clash. But it will also fail to reflect the sheer excitement the supposed minnows brought to the game, and just how sluggish the Tier One nation looked at Elland Road.

While Canada were winning over the neutrals with a game based on flamboyant passing and speed out wide, Italy failed to put on much of a show in attack or defence. That they claimed victory was down to brute force and Allan's boot, which kicked 13 points in all.

That requirement to kick the goals, coupled with head coach Jacques Brunel singling him out in the post-match press conference as an Italian to watch, is something that Allan admits can weigh heavily on his shoulders. He is, after all, only 22 years old, with just 19 caps to his name.

Tommaso Allan
Tommaso Allan© Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

"Sometimes I do," Allan told ESPN when asked if he feels the pressure. "But you try not to think about it too much. There's already so much pressure as it is, playing an international game, if you put even more pressure on your shoulders then it's hard to perform.

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"We knew the Canadians would be a very physical team, they're very direct and we knew that was going to happen. They really upped the intensity and all credit to them, they played really well.

"A win's a win. The boys aren't obviously as happy as they could have been, but we sweated out until the end of the game. We haven't won since February, so we can be very happy with it and now build on for Ireland."

Allan is rarely given a platform from which to spark his backline into life, and Saturday was no different. Instead, he stood out from the gloom with effective kicking to touch and a willingness to muck in with the tackles. He must dream of being given the same freedom as that afforded to Canada's stand-off Nathan Hirayama, who lit up the field with chipped kicks and deft passing.

Without decent service, there was not a lot Allan could do against Canada, and he hinted that the Italian forwards -- for which the nation is famed -- will have to work a little harder before the backs can improve.

"Getting out of our half has been quite messy for us," he said. "But we've got to attack the breakdown a bit better too. We keep giving messy ball to our scrum-half, that doesn't help us.

"It hasn't been easy [since our last win], but we've always tried to stay positive. Throughout this week, we knew we could beat Canada and had the ability to do so. We managed, but it was harder than we expected. Canada really brought a good game. There's a lot we've got to improve on still, but we're glad we got the win. It's been a while now."

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While Allan's international career is still in its infancy, Italy full-back Luke McLean is a seasoned veteran. In the absence of captain Sergio Parisse, who has been recovering from a leg problem, it is up to the likes of him to shoulder the burden of leadership on the field.

Speaking to ESPN, the 28-year-old admitted the side missed its leader and echoed the words of Allan on a need to improve in defence, but also insisted the squad was under no illusion over what was needed in training ahead of the Ireland Test.

"We really struggled to get out of our half and then when we did have the ball we were a little bit all over the place and didn't have enough structure," he said. "That's something we'll have to work on, particularly with Ireland coming up next week given how organised they are.

"Everyone has to take a little bit of responsibility this week. In training it's a case of everyone, myself included, stepping up and taking that responsibility."

Ireland defeated Canada by a 43-point margin a week ago. If Italy play like they did on Saturday, with such gaping holes in their defence, they might find themselves on the end of a similar hiding.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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